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Sharif summoned to appear beforea Panam Papers probe panel on June 15

Picture Courtesy: Al Jazeera

Islamabad: Embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will become Pakistan’s first sitting premier to depose before a Joint Investigation Team probing the high-profile Panamagate graft case when he appears before it on Thursday.

The unprecedented development will make Sharif the first incumbent to appear before such a panel, let alone one probing allegations of financial irregularities or fraud against nearly his entire family, going back three generations, Dawn newspaper reported.

Joint Investigation Team (JIT) chief Wajid Zia, in a letter dated Saturday, asked the prime minister to appear before the six-member probe team at 11:00 AM (11:30 IST) on June 15 with all documents relevant to the case.

The summon was issued to Sharif, 67, after he returned from his Kazakhstan visit where he attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

The JIT s summons also reminded Sharif to “kindly bring along relevant record/documents/material” related to the Panama Papers case. This will entail nearly all the documents and evidence submitted before the Supreme Court by the Prime Minister’s counsel, Makhdoom Ali Khan.

The report also said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar may also be questioned by the team before Sharif’s appearance.

In its judgement of April 20 in the Panama Papers case, the Supreme Court had constituted a JIT and empowered it to summon the prime minister, his sons and any other person necessary, to investigate allegations of money-laundering, through which the four apartments in London’s posh Park Lane area were purchased.

Sharif had met with his close aides yesterday in Lahore to discuss the issue. After consulting with them, the prime minister has decided to honour the summons and appear before the JIT on Thursday.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb, talking to some TV channels, said that the prime minister had received the JIT summons and in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order of April 20, he would ensure his presence accordingly.

The Joint Investigation Team had questioned Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hasan — last month over the family’s alleged improper business dealings.

His eldest son Hussain was questioned five times while Hasan, the younger son, was summoned twice.

The court last year took up the case and issued a split decision over allegations of money laundering when Sharif was prime minister in 1990s.

On May 5, the Supreme Court set up a high-level six- member JIT to probe Sharif and his sons’ alleged corruption in the Panama Papers case.

The JIT is bound to complete the probe in 60 days unless it is granted additional time.

It is for the first time that a sitting prime minister would appear before a high-level probe team traditionally constituted to investigate high-profile criminal cases.

It is not yet clear that Sharif will be questioned for once or would be called again like his two sons.

—PTI